Beyond the Ocean's Depths (Not an Average Shifter Romance)

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Chapter 50: Emojis and Anchovies

TOBIE

And message me he did. Torin must have just gotten back to his desk from leaving the rehab, for my cell phone buzzed not more than fifteen minutes after he’d left my office.

TEXT MESSAGE:

Torin: Hi! Got my calendar open and i’m off for sure Saturday. Im working late the rest of this week. otherwise dont have off til next Tues.

“Oh, God, this is really going to happen!” I took a breath and opened my own calendar up on my computer. I already knew I didn’t have anything scheduled for Saturday, but that was just so soon. “Just go for it, Tobie!”

Me: OK. I’m not sure about next week. Got the new exhibit mgr coming and I’ll be swamped. But Saturday is good for me if it’s OK for your mom to have the girls?

“Maybe Rhonda will be busy and we’ll just have to postpone.”

Torin: I’ll find out.

I put my phone down figuring I wouldn’t hear from him again until this evening when he and Rhonda got home. I felt so flustered, so when I heard the barely audible, yet familiar ringtone of Rhonda’s cell phone from down the hall, I nearly jumped out of my chair. Was he calling her now?!

“Hi sweetie!” Rhonda’s voice was distant as I strained to hear who she was talking to. Guiltily, I tiptoed to the doorway to see if I could hear what she was saying from her office up the corridor.

“No, nothing Saturday. What’s up?”

Shit, he did call her! I didn’t think about how awkward this could be working with his mom! But we already had a good working relationship, so perhaps it wouldn’t be so awkward.

“Ohhh! That’s wonderful! Yes, I’d love to have Anne again! Maybe we’ll order pizza or something.”

My heart was racing now, this was really going to happen! A date! A real date! Anxiety was quickly setting in as I glanced down at my hands wringing the heck out of a pen I’d somehow picked up unconsciously at some point and carried over to the doorway with me.

Rhonda’s voice picked up again after a moment of silence. “Okay, dear... Uh-huh... Oh... Alright, sounds good.”

I wasn’t sure what they were talking about now, but I didn’t think I was necessarily the topic anymore. Finally, Rhonda said her goodbyes to her son and all was quiet down the hall again.

I sneaked back to my desk - not that she could hear or see me, but eavesdropping made me feel like I should creep away. As I plopped back into my chair, I instantaneously glanced at my phone, waiting for Torin to text me again. Just when I thought he might have gotten busy or better yet, forgotten, my cell phone pinged loudly, and I truly jumped in my seat this time. “Jeez, I’ll bet Rhonda heard that from her office!” At least it sounded louder than usual to me, though I was probably imagining things.

I fumbled with the lock pattern on the TouchPad, not that I didn’t already know the outcome.

Torin: Hey, mom’s good with Saturday. Says she’ll do pizza delivery for the girls if that’s OK with you?

Me: Great! Saturday it is!

I chewed my bottom lip, analyzing every word and punctuation I used before hitting send. I wanted to sound happy, but not too excited. Not that four words and two exclamation points were a lot of text.

Then I quickly sent another before he could reply, ready to move the topic along. If his mom was babysitting (again), the least I could do was pay for their meal.

Me: Anne would like pizza. I can pick it up and bring it over if that makes it easier? Are there any particular toppings Rainie likes/doesn’t like?

Torin replied with a thumbs up emoji (👍) and a smiley face (😊), and I wasn’t sure if he was referring to my answer about the date or pizza for the girls. But he must have heard my thoughts as he fired off another message.

Torin: Last message was for Saturday.

Then he sent pizza (🍕) and spy emojis. Caught off guard, I laughed out loud recalling how the girls’ horrible attempt to spy on us last night.

Torin: Rainie likes pepperoni and ham. We also do anchovies, but you don’t have to get them if Anne doesn’t eat them.

Anchovies? That bit of information chiseled away at my guard a bit more.

Me: Really, anchovies?! I don’t know anyone who likes anchovies.

Torin: Now you do! (smiley face and fish emojis) 😁🐟 Have you ever tried them?

Me: Nope. And no thanks!

The guard inside of me was leaving for lunch now...

Torin: (Laugh out loud emoji) 😂 Don’t judge until you try them.

Me: Whatever you say. I’ll take your word for it. (yucky face emoji) 😝

“There, this isn’t so bad!” I told myself as I fired back my reply.

Torin: Got to go to a meeting. I’ll message you later. Thanks again for today and i’m sorry if I was too forward again. I know we said no kissing and all but I just couldnt help it. Youre so beautiful and I really like you a lot.

A small squeak erupted from somewhere inside me as my mouth dropped open in shock. I clamped my hands over my mouth in response. He was apologizing for possibly offending me (again) while giving me the biggest compliment ever! Torin thought I was beautiful AND enjoyed kissing me! I squeaked again in excitement as I grinned from ear to ear in my stupor of elation.

“What do I say in reply?!” Something like ‘you’re an excellent kisser yourself,’ came to mind, but maybe that was too forward. He did make a good point. We weren’t supposed to be more than friends yet, and definitely not the kind with benefits, so what were we doing kissing like that - again?! But I didn’t want to be a prude either, after all I was trying to open up to dating and, even more importantly, I really did like kissing him.

My hands trembled as my thumbs hovered over the screen of my phone. “Shit!” I muttered aloud, again chewing my lip.

Finally, I typed out a message and prayed it was right before I hit send.

Me: You’re not so bad looking yourself and I like you, too. See you Sat, and no anchovies! (smiley face emoji) 😊

I set my phone down, pushing it back as far away from myself as possible, while blowing out the huge amount of air I hadn’t realized I’d been holding whilst typing that last message. My stomach was a confused mess, not knowing whether to flutter with butterflies or tie into knots with anxiety. Me - Tobie Davis - the woman who hasn’t been on a date in almost a decade - somehow managed to get a date, and it was only three days away! Was I ready for a real date?!

}<<(((}> * <{)))>>{

TORIN

“They’re waiting for you, Chief.” Alice popped her head in my door as I finished reading October’s last text.

“I’m coming,” I replied, shoving the phone in my pocket and grabbing my notepad, while my secretary looked at me with an odd expression. Perhaps it was the glowing grin I was wearing for a change - something she didn’t see very often.

I didn’t care - I had an official date with October and she thought I was good looking! Three days just seemed so terribly far away!

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